Parent shaming is a sad reality these days, as Patty Levreault discovered when a delivery man stopped to leave a package on her doorstep. The Connecticut mom explained that while she was home with her kids, who were watching TV in the living room, the doorbell rang. She saw that it was a delivery man and, since she was in her pajamas, didn’t answer the door.
She never could have expected what would happen next.
Patty assumed the package would be left and she would pick it up at her leisure, as delivery people often leave items on a porch or doorstep and the resident later collects them.
This day, however, Patty ignored the doorbell and explained to ABC News: “I was just like, okay, well, I’m going to see if he leaves his package on the porch. I went to the bathroom and five minutes later, three cop cars showed up.”
Why were the police at her home? The delivery person believed that her two kids were home alone and reported Patty to child services. It was a horrifying incident, to say the least, as Patty was afraid that her children would be taken from her.
She explained, “I was mortified.”
Patty believes this misunderstanding was part of “parent shaming,” as the delivery person made a judgment about her parenting without knowing all of the details. Dana Points, Editor-in-Chief of Parents magazine, explained: “People are shamed today for letting their child play in front of their house in an unfenced yard and letting a child walk to school alone.”
These scenarios never used to get even a second glance or concern from a bystander as it was commonplace for children to walk alone or play in the yard.
ABC News reports: “Data shows the overwhelming majority of calls about abuse placed to Child Protective Services (CPS) are without merit. Calls to report possible cases of child abuse are up to 3.5 million per year, an increase of nearly 12 percent since 2009, but the cases of actual abuse are down four percent, to 679,000, according to CPS data.”
Parents are scrutinized more than ever these days, especially with social media making it easier for people to shame moms and dads online.
Dr. Christine Carter, a sociologist at the University of California-Berkeley, told ABC News that increasing awareness of potentially dangerous situations is good, noting: “Clearly if a child is in immediate danger or is being openly abused, you can’t let that go.”
However, Dr. Carter warned: “Usually when we do something which intends to shame someone and can’t possibly help them learn anything, it’s really just an attempt to make ourselves feel better.”
There was a range of reactions to this story on social media, with some believing it wasn’t the delivery person’s business to interfere, but others believed it was okay for him to call the police. One commenter offered this opinion: “Perhaps the guy thought something may have happened to the mom. If she had had a stroke or something everyone would be praising this guy for calling the cops. CPS was not involved, only the cops checked it out. No one was hurt or arrested.”